The UK’s traffic light system for travel has been scrapped, keeping simply two categories: countries on the red list and the rest of the world.
The number of countries on the red list, which currently stands at 54, is projected to be reduced to as low as nine, with countries like South Africa and Mexico becoming quarantine-free destinations.
Changes will affect those who arrive in the UK fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as anyone under the age of 18.
What are the new rules for travel?
Those from countries who are not on the red list do not need to take a pre-departure test in order to enter the UK.
They do not need to do a PCR test or isolate at home eight days following their arrival.
On the second day after arriving in the UK, only one test is required.
It’s unclear when the vaccinated newcomers will be subjected to a less expensive lateral flow test rather than a PCR version.
The government “aims to have it in place for when people return from half-term breaks,” according to the Department of Transportation.
However, depending on the rules of airlines and the destination country, travelers may still need to schedule tests.
But those coming from red list destinations must still pay to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.
Grant Shapps, the Secretary of Transportation, stated: “We are accelerating towards a future where travel continues to reopen safely and remains open for good, and today’s rule changes are good news for families, businesses, and the travel sector.
“Our priority remains to protect public health but, with more than eight in 10 people now fully vaccinated, we are able to take these steps to lower the cost of testing and help the sector to continue in its recovery.”
It comes after months of a disappointment for the travel industry, which has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Airlines UK’s chief executive, Tim Alderslade, commented: “Things are moving in the right direction and the removal of these restrictions will make it easier and cheaper for people to travel.
“We’ve seen a good response to the announcement in terms of bookings and given current trends we would hope to see more countries come off the red list and further mutual recognition of vaccine status.
“There is still much to do though. This is not job done, and ministers need to keep in mind that we remain an outlier on arrivals testing for vaccinated passengers.
“In the short-term the removal of PCR testing by the October half-term week is critical, and we look forward to clarity on the start date for this as soon as possible.”
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